Just days after Facebook’s record-setting IPO, Microsoft has officially launched their social network known as So.cl (pronounced “social”). The education-driven project was developed by Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs and takes a different approach to social networking.

So.cl was established with students in mind and was first made available as a beta to those enrolled at the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University late last year. Rather than simply have another outlet to post anything on one’s mind like Facebook, Twitter or Myspace (in its prime), So.cl allows individuals to network with their peers and share useful information from both inside and outside of the classroom.

Well, at least that was the original idea. Now that So.cl is available to everyone, it’s likely that shared topics will stray from purely educational material into more general themes. As ZDNet highlights, the service could be destined to become another layer of Facebook instead of being viewed as its own entity.

On paper, it’s actually starting to sound a lot like Pinterest where people simply post neat things that they like. If it proves to be successful, Microsoft could have a real winner on their hands although at some point they might want to shy away from the “educational” theme.

To use So.cl, users must sign in with either their Facebook or Windows Live account to get started. From here they are free to post photos, videos, text or even start a video party to discuss findings with friends. 

Do you think So.cl will stand a fighting chance against other seemingly similar services like Pinterest?